Nolan Arenado’s (32-St. Louis Cardinals) reign as the best defensive third baseman in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the past decade is coming to an end. The reigning best defensive third baseman is now Keebrean Hayes (26-Pittsburgh Pirates).
MLB data provider SIS Baseball named Hayes the winner of the Fielding Bible Award for third baseman, the second time Hayes has won the award since 2021. The Fielding Bible Award recognizes the best defensive player at each position, regardless of league, as voted on by experts.
Notably, Hayes was also named the 2023 Defensive Player Of The Year, an award given to the best defensive player at any position. In other words, the voters rated Hayes’ defense as the best of all time.
Keybrian Hayes with the Fielding Bible Award for third baseman. Photo = Pittsburgh social media.
In fact, the perennial favorite for the award at the third base position was Arenado. Between his first win in 2015 and last year, Arenado won the award five times.
During that time, only two other players have prevented Arenado from winning the award: Matt Chapman (30-Toronto Blue Jays), who is also known for his defense at third base, won it twice, and Hayes once.
It’s not just the Fielding Bible Awards that are seeing this phenomenon, but also the most prestigious award, the Gold Glove. Arenado dominated the National League (NL) third baseman’s Gold Glove for a whopping 10 consecutive years, from 2013 to last year. The 10-game winning streak was the second-longest in MLB history, and the first when limited to third basemen.
However, Arenado was not among the three Gold Glove finalists this year. It’s the first time since 2013, his rookie year, that Arenado has been left out of the Gold Glove finalists.
The three NL Gold Glove third baseman finalists this year were Hayes, Ryan McMahon (28-Colorado Rockies) and Austin Riley (26-Atlanta Braves). As evidenced by his Fielding Bible Award win, Hayes is the favorite to win the final NL Gold Glove this year.
Arenado, whose defense this year has dropped significantly from last year, will be 33 next year, so it’s hard to see him being as good as he once was. That’s why it seems likely that Arenado’s time has passed and Hayes’ time will come.
Keivryan Hayes as a finalist for the Gold Glove NL third baseman award.카지노사이트
In fact, Hayes’ defense has been known since he was a prospect. On the “20-80 scale,” which grades a prospect’s talent from a high of 80 to a low of 20 (with an average of 50), Hayes’ defense was rated a 75, meaning he was a top talent beyond the “plus-plus grades.
And Hayes has excelled at defense since his rookie year. According to baseball stats site FanGraphs.com, Hayes’ DRS (Defensive Runs Saved – a measure of how many runs a defense prevents) has been among the league’s best since his rookie season in 2020, with a mark of 4, followed by 16 in 2021, 24 in 2022, and 21 this year.
His OAA (Outs Above Average – a calculation of how many fewer outs he’s made than he would have made on average) on Statcast, the major league’s record-keeping site, has also been among the best since 2020, at 4, 12, 18, and 17. This season alone, the second-best third baseman in the game, Maikel Garcia (23-Kansas City Royals), has an OAA of 13, a far cry from Hayes.
It was that kind of defense that led the Pittsburgh Pirates, MLB’s signature small-market club, to give Hayes an eight-year, $70 million extension last year.
If Hayes can have a decade of prime years like Arenado did, it could hasten Pittsburgh’s exit from the dark ages that they’re currently rebuilding. Pittsburgh fans will be interested to see if Hayes can make things happen defensively.